Sunday, June 12, 2005


Lella Migita is the president of the board of Hawaii Meals on Wheels. The nonprofit organization uses eight Oahu kitchens, like this one at Kuakini hospital, to deliver mote than 50,000 meals a year.

Keeping Meals
on Wheels rolling

Lella E. Migita

» Hawaii Meals on Wheels has elected Lella E. Migita president of its board of directors. She is a retired educator and wife of the former chief executive of City Bank, Ron Migita.

» She has been on the board for four years and previously served as vice president.

» Meals on Wheels, based in the Manoa Valley Church, delivers hot meals on Oahu and is geared toward homebound people who cannot cook for themselves.

» In 2002, the organization delivered 50,843 meals and received $417,000 from customers and private donors. Last year, it delivered 57,303 meals and brought in $480,219.

Question: How you do you find food delivery volunteers?

Answer: Generally we have so many of them who are willing that they work once a week for an hour and a half. Sometimes every other week. We get our newsletters to clients, ads, various sources, churches, civic groups. We have a team from Macy's who do delivery during their lunch hour, from the Pearlridge branch. We have a team from the military.

Q: How much does it cost to feed your clients?

A: I can tell you that, per person, it would cost us about $100 a month.

Q: How much do clients pay of the total annual cost?

A: About 69 percent. And as far as government funding, a lot of people are surprised that we are only funded 25 percent of our budget by government sources. It's all fund-raising by the board members and staff. We have had very strong support from trust foundations, businesses, individuals. Our major fund-raiser is planned for Sept. 30 at the Japanese Cultural Center. This is our one and only major fund-raiser for the year.

Q: How much do you hope to raise there?

A: We're reaching pretty high. We're thinking $40,000.

Q: Who prepares the food?

A: We have eight kitchens all throughout the island on Oahu. We contract with each of them and they are basically hospital kitchens or nursing home kitchens. They can accommodate special diets, such as diabetic and low-sodium.

Q: What got you interested in Meals on Wheels?

A: My mom received meals and I was so grateful for that. I thought I'd better contribute and get more involved. It's been very rewarding being on the board, so exciting. Our mission is to continue our growth and meet the needs of the waiting list, and expand to the Leeward side of the island, is where we're targeting. We started at Hawaii Kai and went right through the city and beyond, Aiea, Pearl City, Kapolei, and that's where we are now.

Q: Have your volunteers saved lives by checking in on people?

A: Rarely, but it does happen.

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